The North East will get an “enhanced government response” to help curb the spread of Covid-19 and improve vaccine uptake.
The region will receive more support as of next week in a bid to bring down infection rates and bolster a faltering vaccination take-up programme.
Local leaders have said the details will be confirmed next week – here’s what we know so far.
Why we’re here
The North East still has some of the highest infection rate s in the country, with Teesside now England’s virus hotspot and South Tyneside and Sunderland having the sixth and seventh highest rates of infection in the country.
In the seven days to July 18, South Tyneside had 1113.4 cases per 100,000 people while Sunderland had 1086.8.
In Gateshead there were 905.2 cases per 100,000, Newcastle had 824.3 while County Durham saw 820.4.
North Tyneside and Northumberland were lower with 744.5 and 694.7 cases per 100,000 respectively.
And while the North East as a whole has a strong record on vaccinations, boasting the second best record in England, areas like Newcastle and Middlesbrough have lagged well behind in the delivery of doses.
Health bosses have reported this week that Newcastle has seen a “dramatic drop” in vaccinations over the last month, with the number of jabs delivered each day more than halving in that time.
What will it mean?
The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed that the support package will last for an initial five weeks and include “the option to deliver extra testing in these targeted areas, the provision of logistical support to maximise vaccine and testing uptake, and further help for local public health campaigns”.
The same measures are already in place in most of the North West, which was the country’s Covid hotspot before being overtaken by the North East.
Public health minister Jo Churchill said: “By working in lockstep with local authorities and directors of public health, this additional support should help turn the tide on these growing case numbers and extend the wall of protection that vaccines is creating across the country.
“We all have a part to play in the continued fight against this virus and our message is a clear one: the best thing we can all do to protect ourselves and our loved ones is getting jabbed. If you haven’t had your first or second doses, I’d urge you to book your vaccination at the first opportunity.”
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When will the measures start?
It has been confirmed that the North East is being given new support from Monday (July 26).
The region’s enhanced support status will be reviewed after four weeks, it is understood.
Will there be another lockdown?
Leaders have confirmed that there will not be any lockdown measures re-imposed on the North East.
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